Here at What’s Cooking, we’ve been focusing lately on the benefits of our fantastic ice machines. This week, however, we would like to talk about how you can put them to good use. We are talking, of course, about updating your drinks menu. Why is it important to update your drinks menu? It helps keep your restaurant on the map and distinguishes it from the rest. Whether you choose to add a few signature drinks or mix up the entire menu altogether, changing your drinks menu can be very good for business. Read on for ShortOrder’s tips on how best to use ice machines and more to make the most of your beverages.
How to Update Your Drinks Menu
Get creative with your menu change. Make some signature drinks, see what is popular at other restaurants, incorporate new beverages on the market into your menu… the possibilities are endless. If you don’t want to commit to long-term change, consider have a special drink of the week. You won’t have to invest in new ingredients permanently, but you will be able to keep your menu fresh and interesting, ensuring that newcomers are drawn in and regulars keep coming back.
Advertise Your Drinks Menu
It is not only important that you update your menu; you need to advertise it. The idea is simple: make it easy for customers to see and select a new drink. Advertise your new menu on your restaurant’s website and social media outlets, include special inserts in your full menus, or add stand-up drink menus to each table. Also add your business to websites like BeerMenus and Taplister, which allow customers to search for craft beer near their location. Advertising on these sites also allows customers to find your restaurant while on the go. Customers search most often on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturday between 1 and 9 PM, so be sure that your beer lists are up-to-date at those times.
Consider stocking local beers, wines, and spirits on your new drinks menu. In the “What’s Hot in 2013 Alcohol Survey” by the National Restaurant Association, nearly half of the top 20 trends involved a demand for locally-produced alcohol. Onsite barrel-aged drinks was the #1 predicted trend, while micro-distilled/artisan liquor, locally-produced spirits, regional signature cocktails, locally-produced beer, craft beer, and signature cocktails all made the list as well. Additionally, going local can be a great way to support local businesses and create a niche for your own business. Put those ice machines to good use and come up with some signature cocktails. Obviously the more unique the cocktail the better, but a signature cocktail can also be as simple as putting a twist on a familiar drink and giving it a name that is specific to your restaurant.
Coffee and Tea Menu
You can also mix up your coffee and tea menu! In another survey of 2013 trends by the National Restaurant Association, specialty iced tea and organic coffee ranked among the top 5 beverage trends. Try a coffee combined with a special syrup, flavored milk, or even spiced tea. Offer it hot or use your ice machines to serve it up over ice. We recommend dice-sized cubes from your ice machines for cold coffee and tea drinks.
Ice Machines and More
For more information about ice machines that can help your business thrive, check out ShortOrder’s lines of Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice machines. You can also explore more of our blog and learn about the favorite drinks of famous authors, how to choose ice machines for your business, how to save energy with your ice machines, and much more.
ShortOrder knows that ice machines are vital to your business. Foodservice operations need ice machines for any number of purposes day in and day out, most often requiring ice in large volumes all day, throughout the week. This can result in high costs, not only in terms of ice machine wear, but in energy, as well. We have already touted the benefits of Manitowoc ice machines and Scotsman ice machines, and we’d like to share some more tips with you on how to stay green and save money when it comes to operating your ice machines.
1. Make sure that your ice machine is of the proper capacity for you restaurant. An ice machine that produces too much or too little ice for your needs can be a big waste of energy.
2. Invest in an air-cooled ice machine. Air-cooled ice machines use less energy and less water than their water-cooled counterparts.
3. Close your ice machine’s lid. Keeping the lid open for longer than is necessary makes the ice machine work harder to remain at the correct temperature, causing a further loss of energy. Make sure your employees know to close the ice machine’s lid promptly after every use.
4. Clean your ice machine regularly. This includes changing out the water filter according to the manufacturer’s directions. Cleaning ice machines on a regular basis allows the machines to remain in proper working order to operate smoothly.
5. Maintain your ice machine regularly to ensure that all components function correctly. Regular maintenance will prevent the ice machine from breaking down later, leading to not only major repair costs, but to disruption of your business.
If you are evaluating ice machines to purchase a new one for your business, you know that are many options available. So what kind of ice machine’s right for you? The answer depends on several factors, so a little forethought in the beginning when considering ice machines can save you money and a major headache in the long run.
Your Ice Machine’s Dimensions
Perhaps the easiest thing you can ask yourself about your ice machine’s requirements is what its dimensions should be. After all, you don’t want to buy a machine, only to find that you can’t fit it through the door! Measure the doorways and the space you want to put the ice machine to make sure you will have plenty of room. Allow for five to eight inches of space on every side of the ice machine. If you are going to purchase a compressor, be sure to consider the space it will fit into also.
Volume of Ice
Calculate the volume of ice you will need to remain operational. Keep in mind the fluctuations in the amount you will use from season to season, as well as the climate in which your business operates, especially during peak hours. You should also take into account the potential of growth for your business, so we recommend adding 10-20% to your estimate. When you evaluate ice machines, keep this number in mind, as ice machines come in a variety of options when it comes to pounds of ice produced per 24 hours.
Types of Ice
Next consider the types of ice you’ll need. You may only need a few kinds, or your need may vary with the seasons. (For example, nugget ice may be more popular during the summer than the winter.) Because of this factor, you may need to consider multiple ice machines.
Make sure you have the proper electrical and plumbing connections available where you want to place your ice machine. Ice machines need a direct connection to a supply of cold water, as well as a separate drain line for both the ice machine and its bin. Additionally, electrical and water connections need to be at least within six feet of the machine.
Manitowoc ice machines come in all shapes and sizes. You already know about the many different types of ice that Manitowoc ice machines can make, and that Manitowoc ice machines are easy to maintain… but did you know that they have a secret, energy-saving weapon? Manitowoc ice machines that are air-cooled could be the best restaurant equipment decision you make when it comes to ice.
About Air-Cooled Ice Machines
So what is an air-cooled ice machine? It’s pretty simple: air-cooled ice machines use a fan to reduce the heat generated by the mechanical refrigeration components inside. The alternative is a water-cooled ice machine, which circulates cool water around the components via pipes to keep the inside cool. The difference between the two, however, comes in the operational costs. Air-cooled ice machines use less energy and water than their water-cooled counterparts, since many water-cooled ice makers use more water to cool the system itself than to actually make ice. Thus, the cost of operation of air-cooled ice machines is lower, and they are more efficient for both day-to-day and long-term use. You could ultimately save quite a bit on your utility bills.
Air-Cooled Indigo Manitowoc Ice Machines
Manitowoc’s Indigo Series line of commercial ice machines, for example, contains some great air-cooled Manitowoc ice machines. The Manitowoc Ice Machine ID-0322A/B-320/115-1, for example, is an Energy Star certified machine that will get the job done with efficiency and ease. It monitors the machine’s critical systems, has an easy-read interface, and is fully programmable so that you can conveniently choose how much ice to make and when to make it. Never worry about losing ice production capabilities on a busy Friday night with Manitowoc ice machines in the kitchen. Manitowoc technology is steadily improving to keep commercial ice makers clean, efficient, safe, and energy-saving.
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